What’s warm, salty and gets you wet? An introduction to dacryphilia (part 1)

Longer-term readers will know that I write about sex. On this blog, admittedly, it hasn’t happened so often. There was that post about squeezing coins into a foreskin, but otherwise things have been pretty sparse on the sex front. Naturally, I’m pretty proud of my sex chat. It means that when I’m down the pub in Camberwell, my mate can point at me and shout “tell them about the farting”. It also means that on the frequent occasions that I’m boring a stranger at a party, I can whip out some sex research to spice up the night. Today, I’m getting things back on track. Reader, let’s jump back into the teary world of dacryphilia.

Three dacryphiles walk into a pub…

A few years back, I interviewed eight folks from the US and Europe about dacryphilia for an academic study. Dacryphilia is a fetish that involves sexual arousal from tears and/or crying. What do you think of when you hear the words ‘crying fetish’? A lot of people I speak to instantly have an image of a man forcing a woman to cry, perhaps in a BDSM context, but also possibly in a nonconsensual way. Well guys, it’s not quite that simple! As I read through accounts of crying statistics masturbation sessions, it dawned on me that there were a number of different ways in which people could be aroused by tears. In the end, I identified three different interests within dacryphilia, which I termed: (1) compassionate dacryphilia; (2) Dominant/submissive dacryphilia; and (3) curled-lip dacryphilia.

Compassionate dacryphilia was a pleasant surprise for me, as I hadn’t anticipated this interest in any way. It was also the majority interest in the study. Essentially, compassionate dacryphilia involves women who are aroused by the act or idea of comforting crying men. The ladies I interviewed expressed a sense of pleasure in the rare emotional intimacy displayed by crying men in our cold, hard, 21st century construction of masculinity.

Dominant/submissive dacryphilia is most similar to the common BDSM perception of dacryphilia that I mentioned earlier. Simply enough, it involves a Dominant partner consensually pushing a submissive partner to their limits by dishing out physical and/or emotional pain, until they burst into tears. Interestingly for me (as a man with no BDSM under my belt), the focus of arousal here tended to be on power dynamics, which in this case are expressed through the instigating or experience of tears.

Only one interviewee spoke about curled-lip dacryphilia, but naturally it’s important to represent everyone’s experiences. This interest very specifically revolves around the ways in which someone’s face contorts as they begin to cry. The climax is the outward curling of the lip that immediately precedes the onset of tears. While this may seem like an incredibly niche interest, think about all of the crying images that we are bombarded with every day on the news and in your average BBC drama. It more than makes up for the likely lack of real-life interaction with this side of dacryphilia.

Dry your eyes mate

One of the questions I regularly field around dacryphilia is whether the three different interests should actually be considered separately from the crying fetish. In short, it’s a resounding no. For each of these interests, crying and/or tears are absolutely fundamental to arousal. Those with compassionate interests don’t just want to comfort men – they want to comfort men who have been crying. Likewise, those with Dominant/submissive interests aren’t simply BDSM practitioners – their highest point of pleasure is only reached once pain causes the tears to flow. And again, the individual with an interest in curled lips couldn’t care less if a girl curled her lips at him – there’s something specific and spontaneous about how the face moves during crying that can’t be feigned.

My preference is to view all fetishes as an umbrella of sexual interests that rely on a specific body part, object or person as the key thrust of arousal. And I imagine there’s even more to dacryphilia. I was initially drawn to this fetish by the allure of the elusive ‘miserywank’, which a classic Croydon band of my adolesence share a name with. Alas, there were no autoerotic accounts arising from my interviewee’s own tears, but this is an area of dacryphilia that’s crying out for more attention.

Keep your (wet) eyes peeled for my next post, which will be another dacryphilia special. But if you want to find out more before then, definitely check out the study itself. Otherwise, there’s some great journalism here and here that covers the study pretty well.


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